Loss of Innocence in Blu’s Hanging

Many times when children are the main focus of a work of literature, the story is about their coming of age. The child character is usually faced with a series of difficult events or decisions that ultimately require maturity. Sometimes, we are supposed to cheer the children into adulthood, but oftentimes I find the loss of childhood innocence and playfulness to be quite sad. The word “innocent” brings up biblical connotations to me; specifically, the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Before Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they were playful and without sin, but afterward, they paid for their knowledge by being exiled. Once children gain “knowledge”, they make the journey to adulthood. However, the children in Blu’s Hanging are still somewhat able to hang on to their childhood even after they’ve been forced to deal with adult matters.

In a way, Ivah and Blue have already begun to lose their innocence before the novel begins due to the death of their mother. Ivah is forced to take care of the family, especially after her father tells her “you going be in charge of dinner” (4). Losing their mother definitely forces all of them to grow up a little, but they are all still children, as we see from Blu and Maisie’s games. Blu is forced to deal with the adult concepts when he is being sexually harassed, but he still approaches them from a childlike point of view. The first time Uncle Paolo propositions him, Blu is intrigued by the money and asks Ivah for permission. Mr. Iwasaki also provides compensation in the form of “a $100,000 bar, and a box of Milk Duds. Dollar bills.” (20) Blu is old enough to know that what is going on is wrong, but he is still enough of a child to think that candy and some money are worth it.

By the end of the novel, both Ivah and Blu have been forced to grow up even more. Ivah, in my opinion, has almost reached full adulthood by the end. Blu still has a long way to go due to his rape and the way his father treats him; but, with enough time, Blu can hopefully win his childhood back and mature at an easier rate.

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